Roman Soldiers

From Issue: Discovery 2/1/2014

The Roman military was known in history for its might and power. During the time of Christ, Rome controlled the Bible lands. So we would expect them to be mentioned throughout the New Testament, and they are. Roman soldiers were always around, keeping the peace, enforcing the law, and guarding things and people. We are told about Roman soldiers who:

•    crucified Jesus (John 19; Luke 23; Mark 15; Matthew 27);

•    stopped a mob from beating Paul to death, took him into 
custody, and guarded him (Acts 21; 23; 27);

•    guarded Peter in prison (Acts 12);

•    and guarded Paul at the end of his life (Acts 28).

Guarding was a serious job for a Roman soldier, because if a prisoner escaped, the guard would be killed (Acts 16:27; 12:19).

In Matthew 8, we read of a Roman centurion (an officer in the Roman military who commanded other troops) who loved his servant. His faith resulted in the servant being healed. In Acts 10, we read of Cornelius, also a Roman centurion, who became the first Gentile to be added to the Lord’s church. In Luke 3, we read of soldiers who listened to John the Baptizer’s preaching and asked Him what they needed to do to be right with God. The idea of “going the extra mile” for someone (Matthew 5:41) refers to the times when soldiers or messengers were allowed to make others carry their equipment for them for a mile—a practice which Jews resented.

More importantly, oftentimes in the New Testament, Christians are described as spiritual soldiers who fight the devil and his angels (2 Timothy 2:3-4; Ephesians 6). Are you a soldier in the Lord’s army?


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